October is National Cholesterol Month and GPs across Lincolnshire are encouraging people to take steps to reduce their cholesterol.
Over half of all UK adults have high cholesterol levels. This doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, but it does increase the risk of serious health conditions.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance which is made in the body; we need it to stay healthy because every cell in our body uses it. Some cholesterol comes from the food that we eat but not all cholesterol is good.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because too much is unhealthy. Examples of LDL foods include:
- Full fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream
- Animal fats, butter, ghee, margarines and spreads made from animal fats, lard, suet, dripping
- Fatty meat and processed meat products such as sausages
Foods from this group need to be limited to lower cholesterol levels.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) on the other hand is good cholesterol because it is protective. Foods in this good cholesterol group include:
• Fruit and vegetables
• Fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon
• Beans such as kidney beans and baked beans
Dr Dave Baker, GP and South West Lincolnshire Locality Lead, Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Knowing your cholesterol levels can help explain your risk of heart disease. Raised or unhealthy patterns of blood cholesterol affect many people. Many factors play a part including genetics, diet and lifestyle, weight, gender, age, ethnicity and medical history.
“Having unhealthy cholesterol levels alongside other risk factors for heart and circulatory disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure, can put you at very high risk of early heart disease.
“Make changes to the food you eat by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, eating more from the good cholesterol food group and restricting the bad cholesterol foods. Being more active, such as brisk walking 30 minutes a day, running, cycling or swimming, are some of the things you can do to help lower your cholesterol to normal levels.
“In some cases, particularly if you are older or at greater risk, you may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine like a statin. Statins are very effective, safe and well tolerated, and have been shown to reduce heart attacks.”
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, talk to your GP. If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.
You can find more information about cholesterol online at nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol